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Washington University in St. Louis, Monsanto Co., awarded crop protection patent

Washington University in St. Louis and Monsanto Co., Creve Coeur, Mo., have been issued patent 6,608, 241 by the United States Patent Office. The patent is for a technique that protects crops from devastating viral diseases that currently threaten or harm many important food crops.

The inventors are Roger Beachy, Ph.D., president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and professor in the department of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, and Robert T. Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto chief technology officer and former Monsanto research scientist Stephen G. Rogers.

Over the past 16 years, ongoing research and development in laboratories around the world has led to virus-resistant varieties of tomato, pepper, cucumber, squash, sugar beets, papaya and plum, among other crops. Recently, scientists at the University of Hawaii and their collaborators used the technique to develop disease-resistant varieties of papaya to protect against papaya ringspot virus. Beachy and his collaborators are researching viral resistance in numerous other plants, including rice and cassava.

Monsanto has donated rights to the technology to a number of public institutions.

"The sharing of this technology has been critical in creating virus-resistant crops for developing countries around the world," Fraley said.

In addition to the successes in papaya, Monsanto is collaborating with the Danforth Center and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute to develop a virus-resistant sweet potato.

"We are delighted that this technology, as one of the first applications of biotech, is helping to advance science throughout the globe," Fraley said.

The technique was conceived, developed and tested in the 1980s when Beachy was professor of biology at Washington University. The research began in the early '80s with attempts to make tobacco plants resistant to a virus called tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). This involved constructing target genes conta
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Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
tony_fitzpatrick@aismail.wustl.edu
314-935-5272
Washington University in St. Louis
20-Aug-2003


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